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Destiny


The Birmingham Post, 13th May 1977, Anthony Everitt


David Edgar has an uncanny sense of timing. ‘You can’t take nepotism to excess,’ remarks a cynical politician in this fascinating study of contemporary British politics: the first night audience, no doubt in appreciation of Mr Jay’s appointment as Ambassador to the United States, roared with laughter.


‘Destiny’ is timely for a more important reason: it is concerned with the resurgence of the extreme Right. The play’s transfer to London from The Other Place, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s studio theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, comes in the wake of the Strechford by-election and increased support for the National Front.


Mr Edgar’s carefully researched but fictional equivalent is a party called Nation Forward and, on a broad canvas, he traces post-war British Fascism from the collapse of the empire to the present day.


He pulls off this ambitious enterprise with almost complete success. Analysis and flesh-and-blood characterisation go hand in hand – as, for instance, in a taut, instructive scene, when two young men from the same social class meet, involuntarily, in a police station.


The one is a fascist, the other a socialist: they are at one and the same time, twins and opposites. It is clear where Mr Edgar’s sympathies lie, but he allows us to emphasise with both of them.


There are some very fine performances: Michael Pennington’s bitter, patriotic major is as powerful a performance as anything I have seen him do. Ian McDiarmid never puts a foot, or an inflexion, wrong as the duped NF parliamentary candidate. And Bob Peck as the tough party leader gives a frightening demonstration of the power which a persuasive demagogue can wield.


Ron Daniels directs with discreet, fast-paced efficiency.




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